We have all been there- but these days it’s probably a bit different from when we were teens. There’s cell phones and tricky little things called apps. As of now, my boys still don’t have cell phones. They are bugging me quite a bit, but I still don’t see the point, so they remain phone-less.
I’m 35. Matthew and I started dating 20 years ago. I’m actually writing this post on our 13th wedding anniversary, September 10, 2018. If you do the math, we were 15 when we started dating. If you keep going with the math, we were 22 when we got married and Cameron was 8 months old. We had to *gasp* call each other’s houses to talk to each other and there wasn’t Facebook Messenger, although that would have been great.
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
Now, there’s Snapchat, Instagram and other apps that I don’t even know about yet. There’s something else that’s always been there but nobody really talked about a whole lot until recently- consent.
I’m all about consent. I’m not a very touchy-feely person, so if you try to hug me and I don’t know you very well, I’m most likely going to step back. I might break your hand if you even think about touching my hair. I have extremely curly hair, and you’d be amazed at how people have tried to touch it. That’s a whole different post.
Sexual consent? That’s a necessity. It’s a deal-breaker. If a person is drunk or otherwise unable to say “yes” or “no”, then step back and call it a night. “No” means “no”. That’s it. This goes for all three kids, and I don’t care who they date. Everyone deserves that much respect and I can only hope they get that back. Yeah, it sucks to get into the moment and have to stop, but it beats a charge. It also beats going to jail, really angry parents and other consequences. Also, Mom’s not bailing anyone out for this kind of stuff.
THE PATH TO RESPECT
I think this starts with talking to your kids. Most teens just want to be accepted and liked, and sometimes this can push them into doing things they might not be quite ready for. Each kid has their own comfort zone and going out of it can be a bit scary. Some kids have issues with saying no.
Having a strong parent-teen relationship can help things. I know teens aren’t the best at talking sometimes, but checking in can really help. It can be super hard to discuss sexual things- for both you and your child, but it’s completely necessary. If your child feels they can talk to you, they will come to you a lot more than if you are harsher or close-minded. This can also increase their risk of making bad decisions.
Another way to keep a teen from making a mistake with consent is teaching them healthy boundaries. If they have those boundaries, they will be less likely to push them with someone they care about. Ask your teen what their thoughts are on respecting others’ boundaries. Help them think through what happens if they don’t respect others’ boundaries- teens have issues seeing the consequences of his actions.
Learn your state’s laws on consent. My mom got a crash course in this when I was a freshman in high school. When I was 14, I dated a 17-year-old that turned 18 before I turned 15. For two months, my mom kept a VERY close eye on us, thanks to Kentucky’s laws on underage dating. (For the record, she absolutely couldn’t stand this kid for many reasons.) Knowing these laws can be very beneficial.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Kids need to know more these days about dating. They’re growing faster than we did, almost as fast as we can blink. There are other things they need to know about besides respect and consent:
What is a healthy relationship?
Discuss with your child what makes a relationship healthy. This is important so that they know what to look for in their own.
Discuss what abuse looks like. Some people begin having patterns of being abusive or being abused in their teens. Stalking should also be discussed.
The difference between lust, infatuation and love. These are three very different things and kids may not be able to see the difference. They do need to learn the difference so that they can form healthy relationships.
Discuss sex and relationships realistically. This means the pros and cons of sex, birth control (if that’s your thing), and so on. Include consent in this discussion. Also discuss expectations and boundaries that you expect your child to go with in dating- curfews, restrictions, etc. Of course, let your teen have input.
If needed, discuss sexual orientation and any questions about it. If your child needs to discuss their sexual orientation, be supportive as possible and seek outside assistance if needed. Please see my post LGBTQ Kids: A Guide if you need help on this topic.
Here’s to our kids dating, looking cute and making good choices.
Pics courtesy of Pinterest
Information courtesy of Respecting Physical Boundaries
Talking to Teens about Relationships